Further blow for sheep farmers as spring lamb prices drop 10c/kg

The spring lamb trade has taken another blow, as prices have dipped by 10c/kg this week. Most factories are now working of a base price of 520-530c/kg.

Kildare Chilling and Kepak Athleague continue to lead the market with both offering 530c/kg, while the two Irish Country Meats plants are now trading off a base price of 520c/kg.

According to procurement managers, the price fall has occurred due to difficult trading conditions in both the UK and France, with shipments to the later affected by floods last week.

Base spring lamb prices:

  • Kildare Chilling: 530c/kg
  • Kepak Athleague: 530c/kg
  • ICM Camolin: 520c/kg
  • ICM Navan: 520c/kg

However, a number of procurement managers have indicated that the trade could be a whole lot worse if it wasn’t for the impact of Ramadan.

Back in May, Bord Bia reported that Ramadan would give the spring lamb trade a much need boost and spring lamb buyers added that this has resulted in more demand over the last two weeks.

But, the impact of the increase in demand has been unable to see spring lamb prices increase.

One procurement manager added that the Muslim festival is currently keeping a floor under Irish prices and if it wasn’t there the spring lamb trade would be ‘disastrous’.

However, despite the current weakness in the spring lamb trade, the cast ewe market remains relatively unchanged, with most factories offering 230-250c/kg for factory fit ewes.

Spring lamb supplies

The latest figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show some increase in the number of spring lambs slaughtered on a weekly basis.

According to the Department, almost 35,000 new season lambs were slaughtered during the week ending May 30, 14% higher than the week before.

Like spring lambs, cast ewe and ram throughput also increased last week, up 3.7% on the week ending May 23.

However, the hogget season appears to be drawing to a close, with slaughterings back 38% during the week ending May 30 on the week before.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill show that there were 6,834 hoggets slaughtered during the week ending May 30, 4,158 head lower than the previous week.

Main Markets

According to Bord Bia, the British trade continues to be underpinned by higher new season lamb throughput.

The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales made the equivalent of around €5.63/kg dead weight last week, it says.

It also reports that the ongoing floods in France is affecting the trade due to some disruption in delivers, while there are still plentiful supplies of French dairy lamb available on the market.

Ramadan is also have an impact on retail promotions, it reports, with retail promotions focusing on Halal products for Ramadan which begun on June 6.

The main promotions were centred on forequarter lamb, chops, steaks, shoulders, bellies and legs of lamb.